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All eyes are on Hezbollah in Syria’s Deir ez-Zor

As the war is heating up in eastern Syria, specifically in Deir ez-Zor, the Lebanese Hezbollah movement and allied fighters are vying with US-backed Syrian democratic forces for control of areas liberated from the Islamic State.
A road sign welcomes people to the town of Deir al-Zor in Syria September 20, 2017. Picture taken September 20, 2017. REUTERS/Omar Sanadiki - RC17375FEC20

The war is heating up in the Syrian region of Deir ez-Zor, where the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and forces loyal to the regime of President Bashar al-Assad are competing for Islamic State (IS) territory with threats of clashes increasing. There in the Badia region, which connects Syria with Iraq, Hezbollah is playing a prominent role alongside regime forces, according to a Hezbollah commander who spoke to Al-Monitor.

All eyes are on Deir ez-Zor. The region, which was captured by IS in 2014, has strategic importance. First, it holds large deposits of oil and gas. According to an article published in April 2014 by the Carnegie Middle East Center, Deir ez-Zor accounted in 2011 for a production of 100,000 barrels per day. Second, it neighbors Iraq, which means that it is a necessary pathway for Iran, Hezbollah’s backer, should it seek to link Tehran to Beirut. In Iraq, Iran is relying on Harakat Hezbollah al-Nujaba, an armed Shiite faction, to create a supply route through Iraq to Damascus, running through a number of small Iraqi cities, including Qayrawan, according to a Reuters article published Sept. 22.

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